It seems like trends from the past always find their way back into popularity, and it is no different when it comes to bass fishing and balsa baits. Many anglers thought fishing balsa crankbaits was a lost art, but these “old school” baits have made their way back into the tackle boxes of anglers across the country.
Balsa baits are often homemade or specifically selected from a handful of manufacturers, like Bagley, by serious anglers looking for a specific action in their crankbaits. This unique action produced by balsa crankbaits differs from conventional plastic crankbaits because balsa is much more buoyant than plastic. The buoyancy of balsa allows the crankbait to deflect off of cover and float quickly back up in the water column, preventing snags and triggering crushing reaction strikes.
Where To Fish Balsa Crankbaits
When it comes to deflecting off of cover, nothing is better than a squarebill balsa crankbait. All squarebills are great for digging into cover, but balsa baits take it to another level. Many professional anglers that throw balsa squarebills recommend retrieving it at a very fast pace in order to maximize its erratic action around cover.
Balsa crankbaits aren’t limited to shallow cover fishing. Flat-sided models also excel in deeper, colder water. Flat-sided balsa baits are fantastic for “finesse” cranking when bass become less active in the winter and early spring. Balsa baits can be better than plastic in colder water due to each materials reaction to water density.
Water is more dense in the colder seasons, therefore soft plastic baits tend to have less action. Balsa baits, however, are hardly affected by changes in water density allowing them to maintain top-notch action. Flat-sided balsa baits are a must-have for cold water cranking.
Advantages Of Balsa Crankbaits
As you can see, there are many advantages to fishing balsa crankbaits over traditional plastic baits. But as with any fishing lure or technique, there a couple drawbacks to keep in mind.
First, balsa baits are much more fragile than plastic baits so DO NOT smack them off the water to try to clean off grass or slime. If you do, there is a good chance of breaking the bill off of the crankbait or even splitting the body itself. Secondly, balsa crankbaits tend to run shallower than other crankbaits.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but just be aware that you probably aren’t going to be doing any deep cranking in water more than 10 feet deep with a balsa crank.
It’s obvious that balsa baits aren’t always going to be the perfect crankbait for every situation, but if you can understand the elements that cause these classic baits to excel then you will find that they flat-out catch fish. So do yourself a favor and go pick up a few balsa baits. The next time you’re out on the water and the fish aren’t biting anything else, those handmade balsa crankbaits just might be the ticket.
Buy A Balsa Crankbait
The Bagley Balsa Shad is a Mystery Tackle Box Exclusive bait, not sold in stores. It is precisely constructed from two pieces of balsa wood. It’s shaped, weighted and molded to bass catching perfection. The Bagley Balsa Shad comes in at 3″ length with a lip combination to effectively fish shallow depths with fast and slow retrieves.
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